As my all terrain tires bounced through the muddy potholes of a single lane country road—I came face to face with a chubby, black goat, standing awkwardly in the middle of the lane. And there we were…gazing into each other’s eyes through the windshield of my truck. My jaw dropped, instantly, and hers was chewing on the bushes—it was love at first sight! I pulled into the muddy parking lot area, put my truck in park, and proceeded cautiously up the lane towards this goat. I couldn’t tell whether the goat was friendly or just plain crazy, staring intently—playing sweet and dumb until I was close enough for her to make her move. I took a gamble—she closed her eyes and licked her nose as I scratched her ears, head, and neck. I had made a new friend, unconventional to say the least. It’s not everyday that a man goes fishing and stumbles upon a friendly, chubby goat in the parking lot.
Her owner lives in an old farm-house which rests upon a wooded lot next to the parking area…old enough that the paint has chipped and faded down to the bare wood—matching the fence that runs along the lane, the roof collecting bright green moss upon the wood shingles, contrasting with the dark browns and greens of the ever-aging wood structure. The front porch, large, but not wrap around, was cluttered with beautiful vintage farm junk—metal-cut decorative wind chimes hanging along the roof awning (fish and farm animal themed). An old, broken down Chevy army truck rests in the front lawn, now consumed by a cluster of pine trees, the rusty chrome and fading vintage paint peering from between the evergreen needles. Paradise.
I made my way upstream of the parking lot, presenting my dry-fly to every nook and cranny of every single pool. I moved a few, caught a few, and missed a few. And all the while, I noticed fresh footprints upon the bank of this little creek—upon the banks of every pool that I did not move a fish. Simply put… I was fishing behind another fisherman, and I was lucky that he did not fish every pool. I worked my way upstream, hand-rolled cigar hanging from the corner of my lips, avoiding every pool with muddy boot-prints, which was most of them. I said to myself, “Either this guy is throwing rocks in every stretch of water he has fished, or this guys is having one hell of successful afternoon, because this creek has been fished out!” I looked up and spotted an old man studying my cast from the bridge downstream. “Alas! My competitor!” He spotted my spotting him and quickly made his way down the trail. After a few more casts, I made my way after him… I had to know how he did and what he had been fishing.
By the time I arrived at the parking lot, the fisherman had not even unlocked his truck. You see… my new best furry-friend had used her cuteness and begging skills to distract the old man. And as soon as I approached the man, I knew he looked familiar! I flash back a few years to an afternoon on a secret brook trout stream. The stream is one of the best and not many people know it even exists, let alone fish it. This particular afternoon, I was stumbling along a winding dirt trail, which runs through a great big stream holler, sweeping up along a massive ridgeline—hemlocks, ferns, and moss paint this magical dark hole with a “lushness,” a sense of intricate life, a nearly virgin ecosystem. As I rounded the bend, I nearly jumped out of my boots when I ran into another fisherman, and he jumped back holding his chest, “Fred Sanford” style—like he was having “the big one.” Only he wasn’t having the big one, he was just so utterly surprised to see another fisherman on that stream. And now that I had run into him again on yet another one of my beloved trout streams, it was time to strike up a conversation. “I know you,” I said, “A few years ago, we scared the hell out of each other on that stream way up north.” “Yes, I remember you. Come talk here by my truck… I want to tell you a few stories,” he smiled.
To be continued…
By Austin Green